Tackling violence against women and girls
Through her eyes
Girls and women experience harassment every day from boys and men. Staring, unwelcome comments, and jokes of a sexual nature are harassment. These seemingly small acts can grow into violence and abuse.
Women and girls should be able to walk our streets without fear or intimidation. It is not for them to adapt their behaviour to avoid unwanted attention from men or to feel safe. That’s why our campaign ‘Through Her Eyes’ speaks directly to men and boys.
Sexual harassment sits on a sliding scale of harm. If not called out, it can escalate into violence against women and girls. This abuse is often seen as part of normal life due to harmful attitudes towards women and girls. We want men and boys to make it right by challenging their own attitudes and behaviour, and that of others.
Types of harassment:
- Staring, leering or suggestive looks
- Sexual comments or noises e.g. catcalling or wolf-whistling
- Jokes of a sexual nature
- Unwanted physical contact e.g. touching or standing too close to someone
(Source: Southwark Council ‘Let’s talk about women’s safety’ survey 2021’- 568 respondents).
How you can help
Be ready with phrases or questions
It can be difficult to know how to call out sexist jokes or comments. Non-judgemental questions can be a good way to open up the conversation. For example, 'why do you think that?' or 'what is funny about that?’ Or you could choose to say something simple like 'that's not OK' or 'that wasn't funny'.
Take your friend aside
Find a way to call out harmful behaviour outside of being in a group. This avoids putting the other person on the spot. Your conversation will likely be more open and trusting.
Sometimes it's not safe to challenge inappropriate behaviour. Always put your own safety first. Don’t feel pressure to join in. You don’t have to engage and can walk away. This sends a signal that you are not comfortable with the situation.
Spread the word
Share the video above with your friends. See what they think and start a conversation about how you talk about and treat women and girls. Do the same at school or at work. Your actions can help teach other boys and men to stand up to sexual harassment when they see it.
(Source: United Nations Women UK You Gov survey 2021).
Page last updated: 14 February 2023